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After seeing Pumpkin Patch Quilter's recent quilt (beautiful, BTW!!!), I again got to wondering about quilting times on custom jobs and how much time goes into them.

 

How does a quilter know how long it is going to take her to complete a custom job like that? And how many hours would it take YOU to intricately quilt an 80 x 80 inch quilt? What's the customer's reaction when you tell them that it's going to be at least $500 for an 80 x 80 custom applique quilt. That's about 7 cents a square inch. And if you were to charge that (or more) for an intricate quilt, would customers be lining up at your door? Do you charge extra for the different colors of thread something like this may require, that you possibly don't have in your repertoire?

 

OMgosh, I have so many questions about custom quilting and charges. Not that I want to take on any super intricate custom quilting, I guess I'm just wondering what the customer is willing to pay and what the longarm quilting market bears out. I've done just a couple really intricate ones and spent so much time on them that I made about $5 when it all panned out. Told myself, no more!!!

 

 

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I started out not charging enough for  custom quilts but I didn't quilt the daylights out of them.

I pretty soon learned that a light custom quilt, no thread changes but individual work in each block, some stitching around appliques, quick sashing and a quick border would take me about twice the amount of time as doing a medium panto would.

 

AS I have a minimum charge I often do the small quilts with semi custom. I still earn the $per hour I want because of my minimum charge and I get to practise my skills.

Customer gets a very special quilt!

 

Detailed custom charge is then about three times what a medium panto would be...... BUT I give the customer a guesstimate that gives me three- four more hours grace if it takes longer.

 

My own quilts I go for it, time myself precisely, so I know how long it takes then I can work out more accurately what I need to charge.

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My customer just picked up a custom quilt where I charged 5 1/2 cents an inch. 

I seem to always underestimate the hours needs and undercharge for custom. I'm keeping track of my hours now and sometimes charge by the hour. It gets pricey!

The last one required--

    Extensive SID (if you're doing custom, you need to get good at SID.)

    One self-made stencil.

    Eight thread color changes.

    Micro-stitching (stitching density changes).

    Extensive marking--- feather spines, the stencil, border geometrics, divisions of small borders for design placement, divisions in pieced blocks for CCing, and some doodling on blocks to audition designs.

 

Each of these techniques requires competency and extra time. That's why there are varying levels of custom work pricing. Realizing that I would need do lots of different techniques for the quilting helps me to give a solid estimate at in-take. This one should have been 6 cents at least, but it was my idea to stitch a border design that required lots of marking and measuring, so I couldn't justify the extra charge. 

 

For a 100" square project, you can figure what the add-on charges would be for each technique, based on the estimated time it would take to accomplish them. Figure a basic non-overall job will start out at 2 cents an inch, or $200, not counting thread charges and taxes.

 

SID adds about 6 hours to a big sampler with sashings and a couple of borders. That should charge out at $25 per hour or $150 extra. That's just added to a basic 2-cents-an-inch job.

Thread changes--standard charge for those who do this--$10 per color after 2 colors. Extra $60.

Designing and making a stencil--maybe 1 1/2 hours if you start from designing to finishing (plus materials)--$40.

Micro-stitching--density of stitching is what makes areas stand out and what defines custom quilting. I'd bet stitching behind applique and in other areas would take up to 3 hours over and above regular quilting on this size--$75 extra.

Marking and then removing the marks-- I'd guess for this one it would have added 6 hours on this specific quilt--$150 extra. ( I marked a tricky outer border, one inner border, 116 (!) triple-strip sashings with the stencil, and spines for feathers in the setting triangles).

 

Added up, it's $200+$150+$60+$40+$75+$150= $675. Which is 6 3/4 cents per inch. So I didn't charge enough... :(

 

While this break-down is specific to one quilt, you can see where charging for the things that take extra time is wise professionally. It's just like any other service by any other professional. :P

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It is so difficult to price custom quilting, some in my area are charging 8-10cents per inch and that may be more in line for all of the detail and micro stippling they do, but then these quilts are winning in shows which then builds their client wait list...And people are happy to have them quilt for them....I am thinking if you are doing a show quilt for someone it is a reputation quilt to build your business. But then you should not be using that as an excuse to accept less for your work...

I think you have to figure out what you want to earn per hour and don't forget your time and expertise and thread is not your only expense...don't forget to add insurance, utilities, other supplies like rulers, pantos....

A lot to consider and every area of the country or world is different as far as what people will pay...

I'm just thinking out loud.....

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As the saying goes, custom quilting builds your reputation. E to E makes you money. I typically have heirloom custom quilts on the frame for a month. Obviously I don't quilt on them 40 hours a week, but I do quilt 10 to 20 hours a week. In my area, customers would have kittens if they received a bill for much over $500 for a king or queen quilt. My thought is you do heavy custom for the love of it, not for the money. If you don't love it for the pure art..decline the project and do what earns you the wages you want.

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I struggle with this all the time. I have recently decided to give up custom, yet I have 4 waiting for me to do. It really erks me to give my work away because it is work for me. I simply can't do enough custom work in a week to make it add up. After all, this isn't China! I happen to live in the Vampire State, NY. I would love to know how to make money at this. I have looked at dozens of online quilting sites and the prices just don't add up. Thanks for this topic and the avenue to blow off some pent up steam. K

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I read somewhere that one quilter starts at $650 for light custom for Double & Queen and up from there.  She would not do custom on anything smaller, not worth the time.

 

Remember to love what you do and the $ per hour in this business is not consistant.  It is a "Service" and like retail, engineering, construction, doctors, hospitals etc. the marked it siclical.  Get it while you can and plan for the slow downs. 

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The most I have charged on custom show quilt is $600, an 80x80 with loads of SIDS. Included are thread and tax. Linda Rech said it all, we don't make enough money with the time and investments (I believe) but I do love to quilt & STILL enjoy to quilt for others I like who will pay my rate. That being said, I now can pick my battles, my personal show quilts produced blue ribbons as well as my customers & I am grateful and content for that.

I am perfectly ok if they don't line up my door.

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Interesting topic. I have been doing more and more custom quilting, mostly Judy Niemeyer quilts, and I quilt them very intensely. I was charging 8 cents/square inch. After timing myself I realized I was not charging enough at 8 cents, and yet it seems that is more than most of you are charging. My daughter has a Business Degree with a major in Small Business Management. She has convinced me to put my price up to 10-14 cents per square inch depending on which designs I use. Her reasons are, I have a 8 month waiting list, no one has ever changed their mind once they heard my prices, and I am running a business and making a profit is the bottom line. Even at 10-14 cents, I wonder if I can't make more money with the panto's I do......

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This turned out to be an interesting read for me. I've been nodding my head as I'm reading all of the posts and realizing that I'm not in the boat alone. Thank you to all who replied. I feel a little more validated that, yes, it really IS time consuming for all you, too! The next time someone brings me a custom quilt, I'm going to be more honest and upfront about what I would need to make to take on the quilt, instead of hiding behind my fear of shocking them with my honesty. I take in so little custom, by choice, and just haven't decided if I want to give it all up yet. It would seem many of us haven't been educating our customers enough, and by "educating" I mean charging what should really be charged for the hours that went into their quilt. I often wonder what The Green Fairy is charging these days for some of her masterpieces...

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Great topic! I recently finished a custom quiilt for a customer, 60 x72. This was Gardeners Alphabet by CrabApple Hill. It is embroidery that is first colored. She did a beautiful job on this! It involved going around the embroidery and into some of the embroidery work. She wanted the threads buried, there were a lot of them. This quilt took 55+ hours to quilt it. Definitely did not charge enough.

Here is a picture of the "Poppy" block

post-3234-0-43525200-1409058401_thumb.jpg

post-3234-0-83587000-1409058419_thumb.jpg

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I don't have any customer who insists on that technique and if I ever have one I will charge by the hour.

Knock wood, I've quilted for 10 years and never have I heard from a customer that quilting has come loose.

I think "knot-and-bury" is a holdover from hand quilting. While it's secure. there are other just-as-effective ending techniques. I've had customer quilts in a couple of AQS shows and one win Grand Champion at the big State Fair. No mention of visible starts and stops in any judge comments. Maybe I'm lucky. Or maybe the use of thin bobbin thread helps a whole bunch!  ;)

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  • 4 weeks later...

All the above are more reasons why I choose NOT to quilt for others.   In my rural area, the color drains from their face when a price is quoted and then I feel guilty.  Then you run into the "really fun" quilts that take up way more time than they should.   So, I am content to quilt for myself, my quilt group and my Mom.   There are a couple gals in quilt group I quilt for, but they never want anything fancy and don't mind if I 'play" with a new design board or something.  haha    

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